Finance (No. 2) Bill

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 2:12 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2:12 pm, 1st April 2014

Of course the banking sector is very important. It has been dysfunctional for a prolonged period. Net lending to business has fallen consistently throughout this Government’s time in office. But I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that when the Treasury said that the levy would raise £2.5 billion, it should have got that money in. All our constituents are paying more in tax and have lost out significantly because that money has not been forthcoming from the banks, which after all owe a little bit back to the taxpayer for the bail-out that followed their reckless lending decisions in previous years.

The very least we should do is ensure that we have a functioning bank levy that brings in the expected sums. We would ensure that it raises a further £800 million. We would use that money to expand free child care places for working parents of three and four-years olds by extending free nursery care from 15 to 25 hours a week. That would also be a good way of helping parents to get back into the labour market and to get the jobs they need. A 15-hour arrangement—three hours a day—for child care does not give a parent looking after a youngster the opportunity to get into work, but 25 hours a week would make a significant difference. We could do that through a reasonable and modest change to the bank levy.